September 11, 2006 | Sometimes it takes just a few millimeters of change to make an entirely new product and the front-mount Swimmer's Snorkel is a prime example of this. Instead of the snorkel coming around the side of the face as is traditional with a divers snorkel, the Swimmer's Snorkel exits the mouth and runs straight up over the nose protruding from the water above the head. This enables the swimmer to stay face down in a natural floating position.
It can be used with any standard swimming goggle and allows a swimmer of any ability to loosen up in the water and maintain a completely relaxed, face-down floating position, promoting calmness and relaxed, rhythmical breathing. Apart from no longer needing to move your head to breathe, the Swimmer's Snorkel is quite theatrical, offering a man-made equivalent to the shark's ominous dorsal fin (albeit in yellow, green or blue), and a spectacular purging process akin to that of a whale spouting. The relaxed, horizontal position allows people to swim at normal or even slower speeds while maintaining a full range of motion.
For experienced swimmers, it offers an opportunity to sort out flaws in the technique as it's possible to eliminate the breathing cycle rotation and work solely on body stability, head position and stroke technique.Watch a Thorpe, Popov or Van Hoegenband and their body stability is like that of a battleship. The manufacturers of the Swimmer's Snorkel claim dramatic effects from using the snorkel to remedy poor technique - from a floppy, sloppy stroke to cruising stability in one lap in some cases.
Mike Bottom, Head Coach of the World Sprint Team and Co-Head Coach at UC Berkeley, uses the Swimmer's Snorkel with all his top sprinters and estimates they use the snorkel during practice 25-30% of the time, every day. Bottom says, "In my opinion, the timing of the breath and twisting of the body while taking a breath is both distracting and disruptive when learning proper body balance and hip/hand timing. By using the front-mount snorkel during specific drills, the swimmer is free to focus on specific rehearsal points."
Accordingly, Swimmer's Snorkel is a beneficial training tool for everyone who swims - beginners, triathletes, masters and recreational swimmers. The Swimmer's Snorkel can be incorporated into a training regimen so every warm up and swim down enables concentration on proper body alignment, complete axis rotation and arm stroke pattern to make them automatic.
David Denniston, a US National Champion (medley relay, 2004), NCAA Champion (1999), US Olympic Trials Finalist (2000), and member of the 2003 US World Championship Team has used the snorkel for seven years and the site has a refreshingly honest appraisal from him with some valuable tips. "The headband takes some adjusting and getting used to", says Denniston.
"It's good to wear a cap while wearing the snorkel, because the headband can pinch. The mouthpiece is soft and comfortable. Once you learn to use the snorkel (the big thing is learning to purge it, and learning not to turn your head to breathe), nothing is more relaxing during a long pull set than having this on. You can just focus on your stroke and go.
"Learning to use this thing is tricky. My teammate and friend, Dan, has not bonded with his snorkel because he can't figure out how to turn with it. I tell him his snorkel is his friend. He scoffs and says, "My friends don't try to kill me every time I turn!" So it takes some practice. What is really nice about these snorkels is their one-way valve in the bottom. If you blow with a powerful puff after a turn, water will shoot out the top of the snorkel and the bottom of the one-way valve. It's really cool, but you have to remember to keep enough air in your lungs to puff the water out. Like I said, once you figure out how to turn and breath with this thing, it's relaxing to wear.
"As long as you don't lose it, you'll have your snorkel for a long time. You will also use it regularly. It's much better than a side-mount snorkel for swimming laps or long distances because it won't jerk your head around while you swim. And, you can swim very fast with the snorkel, no problem. The snorkel may seem a little pricey, but there are several pieces that go into making this an efficient and effective training tool. It's worth every cent.
We've got one on the way and will report when we've tried it.